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Data recovery from corrupt hard drive

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by 8biosdrive, Nov 9, 2018.

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  1. 8biosdrive

    8biosdrive Thread Starter

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Messages:
    21
    First Name:
    Woody
    Tech Support Guy System Info Utility version 1.0.0.4
    OS Version: Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition, Service Pack 3, 32 bit
    Processor: Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 CPU 3.00GHz, x86 Family 15 Model 2 Stepping 9
    Processor Count: 1
    RAM: 3710 Mb
    Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200, 128 Mb
    Hard Drives: C: 74 GB (12 GB Free); F: 465 GB (257 GB Free);
    Motherboard: Dell Computer Corp., 0W2562
    Antivirus: Norton Internet Security, Updated: Yes, On-Demand Scanner: Disabled

    I tried a repair of Windows XP in an attempt to fix an unresponsive script warning (having tried the common solutions), but the repair failed. Files were deleted (system files, I’m hoping) during the repair, but the system was unable to copy a number of system files from the original XP disk back to the hard drive. Ultimately, this has led to a corrupted hard drive containing important data that I would like to recover, if possible. When I try to boot from this hard drive I get a fatal system error. After making my older 80 Gb hard drive the primary and the corrupted drive the slave, I was able to reboot in Windows. Using the disk management utility I see the corrupted drive containg a 125 Mb primary partition and a 233 Gb E: drive. Although the status of each is listed as healthy, the primary partition is no longer recognized as NTFS. In Windows Explorer, the properties of E: show 0 bytes for used space and 0 bytes for free space. When I try to access the drive from Windows Explorer, it tells me that the drive is not formatted.

    My question is what is the best way to attempt to recover the data on this drive? A data recovery service that has good reviews wants to charge $300-$600 for recovery. I would first like to attempt to use data recovery software. There are a number of free and commercial products on the market, such as Stellar Phoenix for Windows, EaseUS, SpinRite and others. For those who have tried this type of software, were you successful in recovering files? Which software would you recommend? I have also seen videos suggesting to use the Windows checkdisk utiltity (chkdsk E: /f or /x) to fix the system partition, but other advice not to use checkdisk because it could jeopardize the data. I also read that it might be better to make an image of the hard drive (if that is possible in its corrupted state) and try some of these tools on the image. I’m not sure if this software will work on an image. Any help with this would be appreciated.

    Regarding my backup system, I back up to an external 500 Gb Seagate Free Agent drive. I had created an image of the drive about 6 years ago, and then used Seagate Manager to do incremental backups (only new files created), which I have been doing regularly. However, I have been having trouble with error messages during the backups for several months now, and when I went to examine the recent backups on this drive, I’m told that the folder is inaccessilble due to an input/output device error. I know I should have dealt with this problem a lot sooner, and certainly before attempting a repair of Windows. Not at all smart of me.
     
  2. abby1991

    abby1991

    Joined:
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    8biosdrive likes this.
  3. crjdriver

    crjdriver Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2001
    Messages:
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    First of all, IF the data is important to you, you make multiple copies on separate media. Data you do not backup is data you do not care about and you should expect to lose said data.

    Next the very first thing I would do would be to boot the system with a linux live usb and see if you can access the drive. Linux quite often sees or accesses a drive windows cannot. If you are able to copy the data, you are done. If not, you can attempt to use recuva to get your data back.
    https://www.ccleaner.com/recuva

    The price quoted to you is quite reasonable. Data recovery is not cheap.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2018 at 10:01 AM
    8biosdrive likes this.
  4. 8biosdrive

    8biosdrive Thread Starter

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
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    First Name:
    Woody
    Thank you very much for the link, abby1991. This looks like great information. I wonder if there is any danger of compromising the data by attempting to repair the hard drive partition table. Since recovering the data on this drive is my first priority, I chose to attempt data recovery first, and only after that to attempt repair of the drive.
     
  5. 8biosdrive

    8biosdrive Thread Starter

    Joined:
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    First Name:
    Woody
    Point well taken. Other than the backup hard drive, what would you chose for the second medium, cd or flash drive?

    I did a little research on Linux live USB. I wish I had known about this a little sooner because it seems like a low cost, straightforward approach worth a try. Would I use Linux Live USB creator to load Ubuntu onto the flash drive, then load Ubuntu and see if I could access files on the corrupt drive?

    [/QUOTE]If not, you can attempt to use recuva to get your data back.
    https://www.ccleaner.com/recuva.
    The price quoted to you is quite reasonable. Data recovery is not cheap.[/QUOTE]

    I hadn't heard about recuva. It seems to be geared for restoring deleted files. I was under the assumption (perhaps wrongly so) that the damage done during the failed repair was to the operating system files on the primary partition, and that my data files were ok. So I ended up going with data recovery software geared for corrupt hard drives, as I'll update in the next post.
     
  6. 8biosdrive

    8biosdrive Thread Starter

    Joined:
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    First Name:
    Woody
    I took the drive to a local Staples. Their software, which only did a quick scan, found no data on the drive. I then decided to test some commercial data recovery software. I tested the free trial software for Stellar Phoenix for Windows because it was highly recommended by PC Magazine, but found that it wasn't able to find any recoverable data. I then tested the trial version of EaseUs Data Recovery for Windows, which scanned for several hours and found over 1,000,000 files (over 1 Tb). I wasn't sure about the accuracy of these numbers (I estimated I had about 150 Gb of data, and how can a 250 Gb drive hold 1 Tb?), but I was encouraged by it. So I saved the results of the scan, to avoid having to rescan, and purchased the software, which allows for recovery of the data. I also purchased a 1 Tb Western Digital My Passport portable external hard drive to recover the data to, since my 500 Gb external drive was not operating normally. Then I started to recover the data.

    Activating the EaseUs software was problematic, but with some technical support that was accomplished. For the first recovery run, I selected all the folders which had been identified in the initial scan for recovery. Files were being transferred to the external hard drive for several hours, and I felt encouraged, until the computer froze. I had to do a hard shutdown, and then reboot. Then I learned that the software doesn't flag the files that it has already recovered. So starting the recovery again meant starting all over again. The second run ended with another freeze. For the third attempt I chose only a few folders to recover, so that in the case of another freeze, I could note the last file transferred and not lose so much time in the next attempt. After a fourth freeze I started to think about transferring the hard drive to another PC, and EaseUs technical support granted me a second activation in order to do this. In speaking to a savvy computer friend about my freezing problems, he suggested I try the recovery in safe mode. I tried this while I was trying to locate another PC to transfer the corrupt drive to. As of this writing, the recovery has been progressing without any freezes for over ten hours. If using safe mode solves the freezing problem, then at the current slow rate (USB 2.0 in XP) I could have all the data transferred to the external hard drive in about two more days. After the transfer I'll try to repair the corrupted drive using Test Disk, checkdisk, some of the tools in abby1991's post, or just reformatting it. I'll report back on the final results and on the integrity of the recovered files. Thanks for your replies, the help is much appreciated!
     
  7. crjdriver

    crjdriver Moderator

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    37,633
    A second mech or ssd drive would be my choice for primary backup. External drives are just not as reliable as an internal drive. This is for three reasons;
    1 Heat. If the external does not have a cooling fan, it is not designed for continuous duty. It is designed to switch ON and make a backup then OFF
    2 Extra interface of the usb; another item that can fail
    3 Shock damage. Externals are generally moved around. An internal drive is not subject to shock or movement damage

    I would make one backup on a second internal drive then another on an external. Maybe overkill however it only takes one time losing important data to make you paranoid about backups.
     
    8biosdrive likes this.
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